Emma Hayes Chelsea 2023-24Getty Images

Why an underwhelming end to Emma Hayes' Chelsea career shouldn't concern the USWNT - or the Blues

Emma Hayes’ final season at Chelsea is not following the Hollywood script. When it was revealed in November that the iconic manager will depart at the end of the campaign to become the new head coach of the United States women’s national team, fans – and even some neutrals – were hopeful that the news could galvanise this team to go further than they ever have, to encapsulate their dominance of English women’s football in one last hurrah, to win an historic quadruple.

It was always going to be a big ask. After all, it’s only ever happened once in England, that in 2007 when Hayes was the assistant at an all-conquering Arsenal side. And so it has proved, with only a double left on the table for Chelsea now after March’s Continental Cup final loss was followed up with elimination in the semi-finals of the FA Cup on Sunday.

Hayes’ post-match press conference after that 2-1 defeat to Manchester United was soaked in perspective. Asked how she balanced her own disappointment with being a leader for her team when speaking to them after the game, she replied: “I think always being mindful. No one died. We lost a football match.” Quizzed on whether the past two weeks, which have included those two cup defeats, have been the worst of her professional career, she was extremely dismissive, pointing to her underwhelming time in the U.S. with the Chicago Red Stars as “much worse”. And when asked what success in this last season would look like in her eyes, she joked: “Getting out alive.”

But while Hayes acted to counter the disastrous manner in which this defeat was being taken, some saw it as her checking out, a sign that she didn’t care anymore, that the standards had suddenly dropped. There were even jumps to suggest a disappointing final season in charge would affect the dynasty she has built. It’s all a little dramatic.

Article continues below